Oxford University Press has launched the first batch of a new series of critical commentaries under the title “My Reading.” This installment includes Rosemarie Bodenheimer on Samuel Beckett and Philip Davis on William James.1 “My Reading” seems a strange label: what is a critic’s reading if not personal? This review, after all, is “my reading” of the two books just mentioned. Yet a reading also aspires to be more than merely personal: to command, if not total agreement, at least a measure of assent, striking a balance between the subjective and the objective. In the present instance, the subjects undeniably matter to the authors, who write—Philip Davis especially—with a sense of almost missionary engagement, not as though fulfilling a routine...


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